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If your company is always chasing minimum requirements there’s always going to be another hurdle to clear as laws are always changed

Written by Matt Phelan on Monday, 13 June 2022. Posted in HR, People

In April 2022 several employment law changes took place.

If your company is always chasing minimum requirements there’s always going to be another hurdle to clear as laws are always changed

In April 2022 several employment law changes took place. These changes include rises in national minimum wage rates, gender pay gap reporting deadlines, increases to statutory redundancy pay and maternity pay, and the end of HMRC’s IR35 enforcement “grace period”. 

Legal minimums

Some of these will have a direct impact on SMEs like the need to file IR35 returns on time. Some won’t apply, for example, gender pay gap reporting only applies to companies with more than 250 employees. And some shouldn’t have a big impact. For example, as of 2021, 79% of companies offered enhanced maternity pay. You will probably be losing out on great talent if you aren’t offering additional benefits to your people. 

Similarly, with the pressures on household incomes brought about by rising inflation and the cost of living crisis, many will need to be earning as well as they can in order to support their families and minimum wage is still far below living wage. Comments by politicians about moving to a higher paid job have been widely judged to be insensitive. But, with falling unemployment, it is true that if people are able to find other jobs that pay better, it’s likely they will move.

That’s why we believe that although it’s important to keep on top of legal requirements, it’s more important to listen to your people. If you see the laws as the minimum rather than the goal, you’ll be in a better position to keep ahead of your competitors. 

Get ahead rather than keep up

Legal minimum requirements are always changing. The Employment Bill that was expected to be discussed in the Queen’s Speech, now is unlikely to be proposed in this parliament. However, it would likely have included provisions such as making flexible working the default, protecting the right to request more predictable working hours, safeguarding tips, and providing leave for unpaid carers and neonatal care. 

Many of these topics have been discussed in HR circles for years now. Soon, old school organisations who don’t wish to make space for their employees who have lives outside the office will be left behind by both legislation and society. Increasingly, employees and employers alike are becoming vocal about supporting their colleagues through all of life's ups and downs. 

If your company is always chasing minimum requirements there’s always going to be another hurdle to clear as laws are changed and updated to reflect social expectations and financial climates. Instead, listening to your people’s concerns and attempting to provide what they want and need rather than waiting for a government mandate will help your organisation perform better. 

Creating psychological safety

If your people are reading the news, or paying attention on social media, (and in all likelihood if you’re employing adults they are) they will be aware of these changes being discussed. Many of your people are likely to be affected by many of these proposed changes. One of the ways you can support the mental wellbeing of your people is by creating clarity around these issues. 

By not waiting until you’re forced to make changes by law, but instead laying out clear goals, timelines and guides, you will help your people understand how you will support them. This in turn will help create a psychologically safe environment for your people to work in, protecting their mental health. 

Specific rather than generic

By listening to your people’s unique needs, you’ll be able to create policies and processes that connect with your people. There may be areas where you can do the minimum, because your team doesn’t need as much support in that area. Alternatively, if you work with a higher than average number of carers, for example, giving extra guidance on how to access support may be more important than in other organisations. 

As you create a people strategy that supports the individuals within your team, you’ll start to see the ROI when it comes to retention and hiring. Building an engaged and happy workforce that supports your business’s aims, aspirations and goals.

About the Author

Matt Phelan

Matt Phelan

Matt is a Co-Founder and Head of Global Happiness at the Happiness Index. In his day-to-day role, he is responsible for the global expansion of the business. Matt is founder of The Happiness and Humans Community, host of The Happiness and Humans Podcast and author of Freedom To Be Happy: The Business Case for Happiness

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